The condition of the pathway up Croagh Patrick, and ensuring that it is made safe, was raised again this week at the West Mayo Municipal District’s monthly meeting.
Fianna Fáil Cllr Brendan Mulroy brought up the issue and outlined his concerns telling the meeting: “In relation to the Reek and the ownership, I do think at some stage the local authority will need to take ownership of the discussion. I know a meeting did take place in December 2013 in Murrisk. The community out there are very anxious that something will happen. Can we facilitate it? Something will need to move on it, even if it’s just to deal with the path on the Reek alone, without actually getting into the ownership of the mountain itself. We need to be proactive on that alone. The mountain is in really bad shape.”
He was backed up by his fellow Westport based councillor, Independent Cllr Christy Hyland, who added: “The people there are very concerned about the pilgrims’ path, people are nowadays using it for a lot more than just spiritual reasons. It’s decaying badly, you see people now using the mountain who move out away from the path, and it’s very dangerous where they are moving to; there’s a cliff edge at one side of it. I’d be very concerned. The casualty rate is going up, if you talk to the people involved in the mountain rescue they’ll tell you. If the council could do something to repair the pathway it would go a long, long way to solving it. The people of Murrisk would be very happy.”
Director of services for the district, Martin Keating, responded to the members concerns saying: “Under the old Westport Electoral Area committee we did engage and set up a forum of stakeholders in relation to the Reek. A workshop was held with all the stakeholders to identify what everyone’s concerns were in relation to it, and how they could be dealt with in the short term and the long term. It has been written up into a report, and I’d be very happy to bring it to the next meeting to see where we can move the matter on. It is a complex one, as it is commonage and there are ownership matters and liability issues, but there is a bigger issue, where as a municipal district you need to give leadership and that is to protect Croagh Patrick as a site and as a visitor attraction. If it does deteriorate further and we do not lead the campaign to put some order on it and find solutions, the district will suffer reputational damage. It is something that we are concerned about and we’ll compile that and bring it to the next meeting.”
Cllr Hyland added that installing a people counter on Croagh Patrick could be a worthwhile venture, as it would give solid information as to the number of people using the mountain. Fine Gael Cllr Theresa McGuire asked that the council have another meeting with the local community in the near future, to go through the report and its findings to plot a path for the future.